> trac ki n g s p i r i t u a l t r e n d s i n t h e 2 1s t ce n t u r y
v o l u m e 1 8 : 3 2 ( 1,1 6 8 ) / A u g u s t 2 9 , 2 0 1 3

In this issue:
a skeptical homicide detective decided to apply Forensic Statement Analysis to the four gospels?
A  THEISM - guess what happened when

E  VANGELISM - “only now in this book do we have a significant treatment of the ethics of such persuasion” H  OMOSEXUALITY - “Individual and religious liberties are not at risk from gay activism.” Hardly. I  SLAM - Gerald McDermott responds

to Miroslav Volf (and the peanut gallery)

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ATHEISM “The Evidentialist: How a Cold-Case Atheist Detective Became a Case-Making Christian” by Terrell Clemmons — profiles police crime investigator J. Warner Wallace who, as an atheist, decided to apply an investigative technique to the New Testament. Wallace used a methodology called Forensic Statement Analysis (FSA) on the Gospel of Mark. “For a full month, he meticulously picked it apart, hanging on every word, and in spite of deep skepticism going in, ultimately came to the conclusion that the Gospel writer Mark had penned the eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter, exactly what traditional Christianity has held all along. Pressing on, he subsequently reached the conclusion that the other three Gospels also gave every appearance of being exactly what they purported to be — authentic, eyewitness accounts written by men who genuinely believed what they were writing. “This was a wholly unexpected development. At this juncture Jim’s well-honed drive to uncover truth ran square up against his lifelong aversion to all things religious. ... “Sometime during this Gospel investigation, a friend gave him a copy of Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis.1 After reading it, Jim, ever obsessive once onto the trail of something, went out and bought everything C. S. Lewis had written.” Wallace graduated from seminary seven years after becoming a Christian. “Out of his passion to train believers, particularly young people, to become case-making Christians, he created PleaseConvinceMe. com as a place to post and discuss what he was discovering about the evidence supporting Christianity.” Salvo, No. 24 - 2013, pp55-57. <www.ow.ly/o1y6B> Wallace is also the author of Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels2 and a faculty member at apologist Greg Koukl’s ministry, Stand to Reason <www.ow.ly/okrrx>. EVANGELISM The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defence of Ethical Proselytising and Persuasion, by Elmer John Thiessen3 — Gavin

Wakefield’s review acknowledges that “one of the thorniest [human rights issues] is the tension between the right to hold a religious view and the right to change that view, and more particularly the right of free speech implying the right to persuade others to change their religious views. Religious leaders of many creeds and shades have long assumed the right to persuade other people that their religious views should be adopted, but only now in this book do we have a significant treatment of the ethics of such persuasion. ... “The author’s main objective is ‘to respond primarily to the radical rejection of all proselytising as immoral’; somewhat unusually in discussions of this kind, Thiessen has chosen to explore and defend the most loaded word in the debate, proselytising, rather than, say, evangelism or conversion.” Thiessen “details his objective in the following way: • To clarify the charges often made against religious proselytising • To attempt to answer these charges • To defend the possibility of ethical proselytising • To define some criteria that can be used to distinguish between moral and immoral forms of proselytizing • To apply these criteria to some forms of proselytising “The author has no difficulty in acknowledging that immoral proselytising exists, such as conversion by physical force or by providing aid conditionally.” Thiessen includes “descriptions of proselytising as immoral by using concrete examples: ‘Is the Jehovah’s Witness standing on a corner seeking to give out the Watchtower Magazine really coercive?’ he asks. He wishes to claim that the vagueness of language about supposed coercion might imply that coercion is less prevalent than sometimes thought, and that more objectivity should be sought. “Psychological coercion particularly with young people is dealt with in a separate section as it is often cited by critics. Thiessen makes a number of points in response. ... “Intolerance is discussed in a longer section, though his basic point is that ‘the
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” Studies in Christian Ethics. <www. 227 pages) <www.com> 6 . there are numerous examples to the contrary. However.’ .ly/ okrU9>. Writing for the Catholic Civil Rights League website <www. McDermott — poses the big question: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” McDermott begins: “Yale theologian Miroslav Volf answers the question in a recent book (Allah: A Christian Response4) with a nuanced but insistent Yes: Christians and Muslims do indeed worship the same God. in effect. the trials of Proposition 8 supporters. the God of the Qur’an Is Not the God of the Bible” by Gerald R. “Kidd is quite right. 336 pages) <www.mp/hkvAjC> SOURCES: Periodicals 5 .” Salvo. 26:2 2013. pp259-262.S. McGill University professor Douglas Farrow sounded a warning about what this policy truly means.2013. indeed.” First Things. 2011.com/journals/Journal201742> . Segelstein discusses the hounding of mild objectors. rejecting heterosexuality as a social norm as a matter of public policy. Baylor historian Thomas Kidd faults Volf for sidestepping the question of salvation — and therefore the question of true worship — and for not being critical enough in his evaluation of the identity of the God or gods of these two religions. hardcover.ly/ o2lLc> 4 . ow. paperback. ow. <www.6 A positive sign from the cult-watching community: Thiessen led a well-attended workshop at last year’s conference of the International Cultic Studies Association in Montréal. The comprehensive range of the subjects discussed and the range of references ensure its value. “Farrow believes that the Quebec government is. not merely of this or that piece of public infrastructure. <www. Allah loves only those who are devoted to him.com/2exlzjz> 2 . 24 . the Quebec Ministry of Justice released an official ‘policy against homophobia.1 6 8 ) / A u g u s t 2 8 . hardcover. the very concept of heterosexuality as normative for human beings. by J. paperback. the “new orthodoxy” in Canada. there are deeper problems with Volf ’s thesis. for it aims at the conversion. the government has decide to normalize it socially.ly/o2niF>) Wakefield concludes that the book “will be a key text for those groups seeking to reflect on [the topic] for some time to come.Mere Christianity.Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels.ow. by Miroslav Volf (HarperOne. HOMOSEXUALITY “Comply & Demand: You Must Affirm the Homosexual Agenda. or Else” by Marcia Segelstein — observes that although homosexual activists continue to cry that individual and religious liberties are not at risk from gay activism. “There is some concluding attention given to recent attempts by religious groups to draw up guidelines as advocated in the book. Jun ‘13. Lewis (HarperSanFrancisco.Salvo. Cook. He wants the discussion to ‘rest on a philosophically defensible ideal of tolerance. by Elmer John Thiessen (Routledge.’ Apparently believing the legal normalization of homosexuality to be insufficient.sage pub.ly/o1yi9> 3 .Studies in Christian Ethics. love from God [in Islam] is conditional. ..org/>.j. loss of parental rights over their children’s education and moral upbringing.The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defence of Ethical Proselytizing and Persuasion. 2 0 1 3 ereign but nevertheless ascribe remarkably different characters to that Creator. In a review of Volf ’s book..” Segelstein concludes that “much is at risk: tolerance for religious beliefs. are they really worshipping the same referent?” • “[O]n the one hand you ask for biblical texts to support my claim that the biblical God loves all. 336 pages) <www.ow.” • “My point all along has been to focus on the God of the Qur’an and to insist that that God has a different character from the God depicted in the Bible. ISLAM “No.salvomag.Allah: A Christian Response. Warner Wallace (David C. and the basic freedom to practice religion without government interference.ly/o2n7M> and <www.’” Thiessen summarizes that he “has shown that proselytising is not necessarily immoral. She adds: “In December 2009. 2013. 2001.evangelism (continued) traditional modern notion of tolerance had to do fundamentally with persons. 2012.” McDermott discusses them in detail.tinyurl. and indeed should be regarded as ‘essential to human dignity’ and ‘that proselytising is a good thing and it is morally right to engage in proselytising even if it can go wrong’.” (Two examples are offered: <www. see <http:// massresistance.” • “[C]onsider this: if Christians and Muslims agree that God is Creator and Sov- v o l u m e 1 8 : 3 2 ( 1. Visit the link below and you’ll see what we mean. but of the psychological and moral and sexual infrastructure of a generation. No. A representative sampling: • “In all the cases which [a comment] cites.. This allows him to deal with the inconsistency of epistemological relativism and to argue that even those with a belief in exclusive truth claims can be tolerant of other people. 288 pages) <www. by C. and then you dismiss prooftexting as a basis for theology. “What is thus pro- APOLOGIAreport mulgated is no ordinary policy document. and indoctrination in schools.ly/o2qEu> SOURCES: Monographs 1 . This is quite different from the God of the Bible who loves all. The rest of the book is then a constructive account putting forward criteria to evaluate the morality or otherwise of specific forms of proselytising. our respect for McDermott has unexpectedly increased as a result of reading his ongoing dialog with those who have commented on this article. pp20-24.ow.. not with ideas.5 For a glimpse of how one group of activists sees the impact of pro-homosexual policy changes in Massachusetts.ow.

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